Murder Antidepressant 2007-10-05 Australia Father Found Guilty of Murdering his Three Sons


Last paragraph reads:  "Mr King didn't believe him and neither did a jury who yesterday found Farquharson, 38, guilty of murdering his three sons in cold blood in freezing black water."

Paragraph 47 reads:  "The couple separated and in early 2005 she began a new relationship with Mr Moules.

Paragraph 52 reads:  "Devastated by the family bust-up, Farquharson was on anti-depression medication and seeing a counsellor."

Tragic Father's Day to live on in infamy

Mex Cooper


ROBERT Farquharson paced in the grass along the Princes Highway soaking wet and sucking on a cigarette.

On the bank of a nearby dam his estranged wife screamed into darkness for their three boys swallowed by the black water.

``I can't bury my children,'' a volunteer heard Cindy Gambino howl as he scoured the icy water for Farquharson's white Commodore.

A police chopper arriving at the scene broke the night's silence and SES lighting shone on the dark and dirty water.

Locals scrambled at the edge of the dam hoping the news they'd heard wasn't true.

Ms Gambino asked a paramedic how long it had been.

``Forty minutes,'' he replied.

``What are their chances?'' she asked

``Very slim,'' he answered.

Stephen Moules, her new partner, had already been in the water, yanking his boots and jacket off and heading into the dam after Farquharson had asked him for smokes.

``What? Where are your kids? Get out of my face before I kill you. Where are your kids?'' Ms Gambino heard him yell at Farquharson.

She saw Farquharson standing with his arms crossed leaning on a car.

``He was just like _ like a person but there was no movement, no _ nothing,'' she said. ``It was like he was in a trance.''

It was Father's Day.

Just five hours earlier on September 4, 2005, Ms Gambino had dropped Jai, 10, Tyler, 7, and Bailey, 2, off to their dad.

She had cuddled Bailey, the baby of the family who loved Bob the Builder and icy-poles, and said goodbye.

``I love you mum,'' he said.

``It was the last time I saw my children,'' she told a Supreme Court jury through sobs.

About 11.30pm, a police diver found Jai's body protruding from the driver's door of his dad's submerged car.

Tyler and Bailey were in the back with their child restraints off.

Under water with them were the gifts their father had bought them at Belmont's K Mart that afternoon and a football they'd stopped to collect from their aunt's house in Mount Moriac on their way home to Winchelsea.

Farquharson told police he had been driving over an overpass about 4km from Winchelsea when he began coughing and couldn't stop.

``I've started really, really coughing and that was it. I don't recall anything else,'' he said.

He said he woke in the water.

``Dad, we're in water,'' he said Jai told him.

``Don't panic, mate. Don't panic,'' Farquharson said he told his son.

Jai opened his door, cold water started entering the car and Farquharson reached over to shut it.

He told police he thought they were in shallow water.

``Hold on, hold on. I'll get out and get you out,'' Mr Farquharson told police he said.

He opened his door and water rushed in. The car nose-dived and began to sink. The boys were screaming. The water was deeper than he had thought.

The court heard that Farquharson couldn't clearly remember what happened next.

He said he thought he had dived down. He thought he swam around the back of the car but realised he couldn't do anything. He couldn't remember if he saw the car sink. He couldn't remember if he had found the car in the soupy water. He saw headlights on the road and swam for help.

Geelong Hospital head of thoracic medicine Chris Steinfort told Farquharson's trial it was ``highly likely'' he had suffered from cough syncope _ an extremely rare medical condition that causes someone to black out after coughing.

But Associate Professor Matthew Naughton disagreed and said it was ``extremely unlikely'' someone without heart, lung or brain problems, such as Farquharson, could have passed out from coughing.

Police accident reconstructionist Acting Sergeant Glen Urquhart told the court marks left by Farquharson's car told their own story _ the story of a conscious driver turning the steering wheel 220 degrees to get off the road, then straightening up before turning right to miss hitting a tree on the edge of the dam.

The jury believed that sitting behind the wheel was Farquharson, conscious and about to kill the three boys he told police were ``my whole life''.

Geelong grief counsellor Gregory Roberts said Farquharson's behaviour on the night had been within the normal range for someone suffering from traumatic grief, including refusing a mobile phone to call for help or offers from Shane Atkinson, the motorist Farquharson flagged down, to jump into the water.

``It's too late,'' the court heard Farquharson had told him.

Never able to know if their father was right or if the boys were still alive when he drove their dad away, Mr Atkinson told a jury he did ``the stupidest thing of my whole life''.

He did what Farquharson had asked him about ``100 times'' to do and drove him to Ms Gambino's house so he could tell her the boys were gone.

The couple had split in late 2004. Their relationship began in 1992 while she was grieving for a lost love who had been killed in an accident.

It ended in her heart before she told Farquharson, who was suffering from depression after the death of his mother.

It was a marriage of downs more than ups, as they built a family under the weight of financial pressure and without the comfort of consuming love to soften the load.

``I found it throughout my marriage very hard to give my heart to my husband,'' Ms Gambino told her ex-husband's murder trial.

``You can love someone but you can also be in love with someone and I found it hard to be in love with Rob.

``He was a very secure person, he was a very good provider, but I just found it hard to give myself to him.''

By 2004, Ms Gambino ``just didn't want the marriage anymore''.

The couple separated and in early 2005 she began a new relationship with Mr Moules.

A churchgoer who had recently suffered the emotional battering of his own marriage break-up, Mr Moules had laid the concrete slab for the couple's house.

He and Ms Gambino were at first platonic friends and Mr Moules a confidant to Farquharson, who he told to seek counselling to try and save his marriage.

But over time the relationship between Ms Gambino and Mr Moules, now engaged and with a son of their own, grew and Farquharson knew it.

Devastated by the family bust-up, Farquharson was on anti-depression medication and seeing a counsellor.

But all the witnesses who knew him said he was devoted to his boys, who always came first.

Everyone but Greg King.

In mid 2005, Farquharson had bumped into his friend Mr King at a Winchelsea fish and chip shop.

They had a conversation. Farquharson was angry. He was going to pay back Ms Gambino ``big time''.

About 11pm on September 4, 2005, Mr King got a phone call.

The Farquharson boys had drowned in a dam accident and Farquharson survived.

He was shattered.

Memories of the conversation came back to him. He told police it haunted him because Farquharson had vowed to kill the boys who he ``hated'' on Father's Day in a dam accident so that Ms Gambino would ``suffer every Father's Day for the rest of her life''.

Two weeks after the deaths, wearing a secret tape recorder, Mr King, a Winchelsea bus driver, confronted his life-long mate and told him the fish and chip shop conversation was ``eating inside me like cancer''.

He was having visions of the boys drowning. He couldn't sleep.

``For God's sake don't mention that sort of stuff . . . because then they're going to have it on file . . . that's going to incriminate me,'' Farquharson said.

He pleaded with him not to tell police, instead to tell them he was a ``good bloke'' who had ``always been good with his kids'' and ``heavily involved'' in their sports.

``Please don't ever think that I could do something like that . . . it's not me, you know me, you know me since I was a kid,'' Farquharson said.

``You know that is not my nature.''

Mr King didn't believe him and neither did a jury who yesterday found Farquharson, 38, guilty of murdering his three sons in cold blood in freezing black water.